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Bilawal warns against underestimating rage brought by Islamophobia

UNITED NATIONS: On Friday, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari asked the international community not to minimize the irritation and sense of unfairness Muslims felt in response to intentional acts of Islamophobia, such as the burning of holy texts.

The International Day to Fight Islamophobia, which will be marked on March 15, was highlighted when the foreign minister spoke at a special high-level event at the UN headquarters in New York.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres asked all countries to “keep working together to foster the common values of inclusion, tolerance, and mutual understanding” in a message denouncing Islamophobia. The “increasing hatred that Muslims experience is not an isolated occurrence, but the rebirth of Ethno-nationalism,” the speaker cautioned.

The initiative that resulted in the declaration of March 15 as the International Day to Fight Islamophobia was started in 2020 by former prime minister Imran Khan. The action was supported by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Since a gunman struck two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on this day in 2019, murdering 51 people, March 15 has been designated as Anti-Islamophobia Day. 140 nations will observe the day.

In his message, OIC Secretary General Hissein Brahim Taha reminded everyone that when hatred is motivated by one’s faith or religion, it can materialize as terrible violence.

In her remarks, Nazila Ghanea, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, emphasized the importance of working together to fight the forces of hatred, noting that “an attack on one is an attack on us all.”

The Pakistani foreign minister, who co-chaired the meeting with Csaba Korosi, the president of the UN General Assembly, highlighted how Islamophobia still existed today, how Muslims were unfairly singled out because of their religion, and how the problem continued to go unreported.

He regretted that while the everyday, silent drip of prejudice, bigotry, and hostility against Muslims was mostly unnoticed and underreported, the consequences of Islamophobia frequently came to international attention when a horrifying act of violence or terrorism targeted innocent Muslims.

“The creation of a UN Special Envoy to combat Islamophobia, the adoption of international measures for the protection of Holy Places, and the passage of laws to criminalize hate speech,” according to Mr. Bhutto-suggested Zardari’s practical action plan.

He also recommended creating national and international judicial systems and legislation to punish those responsible for such crimes, as well as offering legal support and proper recompense to victims of Islamophobia.

Mr. Korosi said freedom of religion has been guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and that “this is an international norm that must not be broken”. The president of the UNGA asked all member nations to protect this fundamental right.

The United Nations defined Islamophobia as “a fear, prejudice, and hatred of Muslims that leads to provocation, hostility, and intolerance by means of threatening, harassing, abuse, incitement, and intimidation of Muslims and non-Muslims, both in the online and offline world”.

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